What is a book review?
A book review is a type of critique. In addition to summarizing what a book is about, a book review may analyze the book's main themes, evaluate the book's contents, or express the reviewer's reactions to the book.
What should I include in my book review?
Here are a few points to consider when writing a book review:
- The general topic of the book:
- What is it?
- How does the book fit into it?
- The book's purpose:
- Why was it written? What did the author hope to accomplish?
Note: The title, preface and introduction are useful in establishing this information.
- The book's title:
- Consider derivation, meaning, suggestiveness
- Consider fitness and adequacy – or inadequacy
- Is the title ambiguous or confusing?
- Does it create a false impression?
- The book's contents:
- Type of book
- Narrative (i.e. is it fundamentally chronological, relating characters or events to some ultimate sequence in time)?
- What are the author's main arguments or ideas?
- How are they developed? (chronologically? topically? both? other?)
Note: The table of contents, chapter headings, and sub-headings are useful in establishing this information.
- The book's authority:
- The author's ideas:
- Are key words/concepts defined?
- Is there internal consistency of ideas?
- How well are the ideas or arguments developed?
- Has the author used sources to back up his/her ideas? How reliable are these sources? Is there any apparent bias in the choice of sources?
- The author's background and qualifications:
- What are they?
- What effect do they have on the work?
- The author's style:
- Simple or technical?
- Spare or wordy?
- Logical or emotional?
- To the author's purpose?
- To the subject?
- To the intended audience?
- The book's format:
- Aids to understanding
- Charts, graphs, maps, statistics, illustrations, photographs (current, clear, related to text)?
- Bibliography (superficial or thorough? Annotated?)
- Significance of the work in its field:
- Relative to the author's other works
- Relative to related works by other authors
- Further work that needs to be done in the field
- Final assessment of the book's quality and impact